FPS (or frames per second) has long been used to gauge the visual quality of content on your screen in general. It’s most notably applied to games where a higher FPS means your games looks much, much better. FPS depends on the hardware you have on your system so less capable hardware means a lower FPS. That said, even with good hardware, you can end up with a low FPS. Here’s how to view FPS on macOS.
There is no shortage of tools for viewing FPS on macOS but we’re going to use a free tool developed by Apple itself.
Xcode Graphics tool
Visit the Apple Developer page and sign in with your Apple ID. If prompted to, sign up as a developer. You will not have to purchase a membership. That is only necessary if you’re looking to upload an app to one of Apple’s app stores.
Once you’re signed in and on the Downloads page, use the filter and select only Developer Tools. In the search bar, type ‘Graphics’, and tap Enter.
In the filtered items, look for Additional tools for Xcode and make sure it’s for the latest, stable version of Xcode. Download the small DMG file.
FPS on macOS
Open the DMG file, and inside the Graphics folder, look for the Quartz debug tool. Run it.
Once it’s running, go to the Window item on the menu bar and select FrameMeter from the menu. This will add a meter at the bottom left of the screen that will show you the current FPS. If there is a change in the FPS that you’re currently getting, the meter will update to reflect it.
There’s also a smaller meter inside this FPS meter that shows you CPU usage.
There are third-party tools that will measure the FPS on macOS, and some of them might be better visually. If this free tool from Apple doesn’t quite suit your needs, you can try Count It.
FPS tends to fluctuate; there is likely a maximum rate that your Mac can reach based on its hardware but the frame rate can drop to a drastically low level if your system resources are being dragged down. Normally, FPS fluctuation isn’t extreme. You might see a frame rate drop from 1-5 frames, or in extreme cases, up to 10-15 frames but it should recover. If you’re running an app on your system that is consistently giving you a low frame rate, it is likely because your system does not have the resources to run the app at a higher frame rate. Other apps, those that are not as resource hungry will still be able to run at a higher FPS.